Concealed Carry Weapon
What is a concealed carry weapon?
In SC a "Concealable Weapon" means a firearm having a length of less than 12" inches measured along its greatest dimension that must be carried in a manner that is hidden from public view in normal wear of clothing except when need for self-defense.
This measurement can be from back of slide or back strap of handgun to tip of muzzle, or it could be from bottom of the back of the grip to the top of very front of firearm. The measurement comes from the longest overall point of gun. It must remain covered in SC at all times unless defending yourself. Even if you're getting something out of your pocketbook or reaching up on a shelf it must remain concealed from public view.
What do I need to know before I decide to carry a handgun?
First we must be willing to take a human life. You must make your mind up to the point that if someone attacks you, you are willing to use enough force that will end in their death. If you are willing to do so (not saying you want to but will if put in that situation) you must know it's a great responsibility carrying a handgun. You must know where it is at ALL times. You must know who's around you and be able to keep them away from it at ALL times. You can't leave your pocket book laying around (if you carry your handgun in it) so it's accessible to anybody. You must make sure it's secured so it doesn't just fall out and it is carried in a safe manner. You must maintain it in great working condition and make sure it's clean and operates properly at all times. Choosing to carry a handgun is one of the biggest responsibilities you will ever take on. If you are willing to take it on to defend yourself make sure to seek out proper training.
How do I choose a CCW?
This can be the number one most difficult task to do when you decide to start carrying a firearm for protection. The common myth is that we must have a certain caliber and then choose a gun in that caliber that you like best. The truth is that shot placement trumps caliber all day long. (please see ballistics and caliber section) The first thing we have got to do is find a handgun that we can handle period. Now we do have some good starting points with this but it will depend on our carry situation as well. Do we need a small pocket sized pistol to put in our pocket or a pocket book, or one of those bra holsters for the lady's? The smaller the handgun is the more felt recoil it's going to have. The lighter one handgun is over the other the more felt recoil it'll have. I have a Keltec P3AT which is a very lightweight small pocket .380. I also have a Glock 22 which is a full size .40 that holds 15 rounds in the magazine which makes it a bit heavier handgun than the .380 and even though the the .40 cartridge is much bigger in this case it has a less felt recoil over the .380. If you decide to go with a small snub nose revolver the aluminum or titanium ones will have more felt recoil than the heavier steel ones.
We must also find one that fits our hands even when choosing a smaller one. If we can't get our finger on the trigger it's not the one for us. I personally suggest that you start with trying out (borrow or go to a range and rent one) a full size 9mm even if you want a pocket pistol to see if you can deal with the recoil. If not then you're definitely not going to like it in a smaller version. A 9mm is a great starting point and to be honest it's one of the best especially for concealed carry. If it's too much go to the .380 and down from there. I do know some can't even handle the .380 to have good shot placement and will have to go lower. There are several lower calibers that you can choose from. The one I do not suggest is the .25, it just doesn't have any kind of ballistics at all. I would choose a .22lr over the .25 any day of the week. The one thing you must know is that if you do go under .380 you're going to have to have great shot placement. You're not going to have great enough "bleed out" with the smaller holes to rely on it. I personally suggest getting the biggest caliber (up to 9mm) that you can handle and have great shot placement. If you like the calibers bigger than the 9mm and can handle them go for it. The 9mm is a great starting point and has about the same ballistics and "knock down" power of the .40 and .45 and will hold more rounds. I suggest you find some friends that have different calibers or go to a range that'll rent you some and try a bunch before you buy them. See which you're the most comfortable with and go from there.
You may find you're more comfortable with a revolver than a semi-auto. The main downside of the revolver is ammo capacity. The downside to the semi-auto is racking the slide during a failure to fire. 90% of defending yourself with a firearm is being comfortable with it. If you're not comfortable with it you're not going to train with it, if you don't train with it you're not going to have good shot placement. You must also be as comfortable as you can carrying it, if you're not comfortable carrying it you're not going to.
If you go to a gun shop and they tell you that you have to have a certain caliber walk out. Go somewhere else. If you have people telling you a .45 is the only handgun that'll do nay good walk away. It's been proven time and time again that no matter what someone was hit with it was the location of the shot that stopped them.
What do I carry for my concealed carry weapon(s)?
I personally carry several at different times. The main one I carry is a Taurus P111 G2 9mm which is a midsize semi-auto handgun. I like the trajectory, and speed of the 9mm in a semi-auto handgun. It also holds 12 in the magazine which gives me 13 to start and I carry 2 extra mags which makes it 37 rounds on my person. There are other times I carry a small pocket all steel .380 or .22 in my pocket, again due to dress. It is a great shooting very accurate pocket pistol. I'm limited with it to 7 rounds though. As you see I prefer to go with a more powerful round but I don't mind the smaller either. It's all shot placement anyway. Check out our other pages for shot placement.
My wife carry's a .380 mid-sized handgun that she can conceal very comfortably and handle very comfortably. Her shot placement is excellent and can fire multiple rounds and hit her targeted areas very fast. This is what it's about, I much rather she have the smaller caliber and if she couldn't handle the .380 an even a smaller caliber then and be hitting her intended target than to have a larger caliber and miss or not be able to hit the target multiple times. There is no guarantee that 1 hit will stop the attacker. Odds are it won't.
What brand is the best?
This is a very loaded question and many heated debates can ensue with this. The best brand is... The one that functions properly every time. Lets look at it this way, there are "top of the line guns" just like there are top of the line cars. You have KIA, Ford, Chevy, Mazda, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, etc. With these you have "lower end" all the way to very "high end" cars. The one thing they have in common is they will all end up in a shop being fixed at some point. It's the same with firearms, they are man made mechanical devises that can and will fail. Of course you're gonna have your lemons but you can get a lemon out of any brand. Most firearms anymore have very good warranties and will fix them or replace them. You need to pick one that fits you best, if you find a brand you like better than the others go with it. Just remember that we must take care of whatever brand we get and do preventative maintenance to it so it'll work right every time.
I personally carry a Taurus PT111 9mm 90% of the time. Taurus is not considered a top of the line handgun and a lot of people would even consider it a lower end handgun. I have put a few thousand rounds through it and my wife and we have never had a problem with either handgun. We do keep them clean and well maintained and I expect them to last many years to come. I carry this firearm because I like the features it has. It is a single action that will go to double action if you have a failure to fire you can just pull the trigger again and have another chance of firing the same bullet that failed to fire the first time. Out of the 200 or so failures to fire due to the primer in the bullet cartridge every one of them fire on the second strike. The gun is also easy to control and very accurate. I have higher end handguns but this is the one I prefer to carry and I absolutely love it and I trust it to do the job.
Do I carry a round in the chamber or not?
Yes! You will not have enough time to load (rack) a round into the chamber to defend yourself in time. You probably won't get the round chambered before your attacker gets to you from 30+ feet away. This will not only give the attacker the advantage over you, if you lose the fight he will have your gun. To be honestly blunt: If you're not going to carry a firearm with a round in the chamber leave it at home in the safe, It will do you no good.